Listed below are some of the other notable construction toy systems that were produced during the 20th century. The list is by no means exhaustive, as by some estimates hundreds of such systems have come and gone over the years.
  • Bing's Structator (Germany)
  • BRAL (Milan, Italy)
  • Buildo
  • Construction (E.Germany)
  • Constructor
  • Construct-o-Craft
  • Elektromehaniskais konstructors (Russia)
  • Ezy-Bilt (Australia)
  • FAC (Sweden)
  • Lyons
  • Marklin Metall (Germany)
  • Mekanik (Sweden)
  • Mek-Struct (China)
  • Mini Meta-Build (New Delhi, India)
  • Necobo
  • Palikit
  • Pioneer
  • Primus Engineering Outfits (England)
  • Schefflers
  • Sonneberger
  • Steel Engineering (U.S.A.)
  • Structomode
  • TECC (Czeckoslovakia)
  • Tekno (Norway & Denmark)
  • Thale Stahlbau Technik (E. Germany)
  • The Constructioneer
  • The Engineer (Toronto, Canada)
  • TRIX (Germany and England)
  • Trumodel (U.S.A.)
  • Vogue (Melton Mowbray, England)
  • Wisdom / Sagesse (China)

Exacto of Argentina

This time we'll look at a very special product from Exacto, a manufacturer with a unique history in the field of metal construction toys. In the mid-1950's, Alberto Richini and Carlos Rovetta founded Exacto in Argentina to manufacture both automobile parts and Meccano spare parts. The details of Exacto's history can be read on their Web site (see my Links page), but in short, the company eventually became an officially recognized Meccano factory, manufacturing and marketing both parts and sets under the brand name "Meccano - Industria Argentina". This business arrangement lasted into the 1980's, when the agreement was terminated by the new owner of the Meccano trademark. Since that time, Exacto has continued to manufacture and market both parts and sets under their own name. Today, Exacto is known primarily for its parts and electric motors. There are currently only a handful of building sets and related items in their product line, including the Crane and Helicopter set, the subject of this feature. Others include the No. 4 set, available in two different color schemes, and a replica 1929 steam engine. New sets are planned for future release.

The photos at left and below show the contents of the Crane set. It contains a total of 435 parts that are securely arranged in two stacked foam trays. The current version of the set is a highly collectible limited edition that features a variety of brand new but original 1970's parts, including the motor, battery box, instruction manual, winding drum, and decal sheet. The manual contains instructions for building 9 models, including 8 different crane designs, plus a suspension bridge. The set also includes an original 1978 helicopter blueprint sheet. Artist renderings of all ten models are shown below. My thanks to Juan Carlos Rovetta, the Managing Director of Exacto, for sending me this beautiful computer rendered artwork, which was created by Mr. Anthony Els of South Africa.

The two part trays are shown below. The top tray (on the left) holds truss girders, flex and flanged plates, gears and disks, a large pulley, plus tools and other parts. The lower tray (on the right) holds the motor, battery case, angle girders, perforated strips and two part cans, plus a variety of plates, girders, trunnions, and brackets. The parts in this set, like all Exacto parts, are of extremely high quality. Paint and plating are very good, and machined parts are smooth and finely finished. Gear teeth are precisely cut, and all bosses, be they on gears, pulleys, or wheels, are solid brass and double-tapped, a very nice feature. Screws (slot head) and nuts (square) are nickel plated. The set, packed in a sturdy cardboard box measuring 16¼" x 11½" x 2½", weighs in at 4.5 lbs.

  

I was impressed with this set from the get-go, starting with the cover art. After opening it, I couldn't wait to start building with it. Visit my Model Gallery to see my first model from the set, the Radial Crane. In summary, the quality and finish of the parts, original 1970's parts and extra features, and overall attention to detail make this one of the nicest sets available today.


Breaker's Yard Crane

Hammerhead Crane

 

Level Luffing Crane


Suspension Bridge

 

Tower Crane

 

Radial Crane

 

Dockside Crane

 

Foundry Crane

 

Helicopter

 

Hoist Crane